How to spot undue influence in estate planning

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Firm News |

A perfectly executed estate plan will leave your loved one’s assets to those they care about in a way that aligns with their overall vision. However, there are sometimes issues that draw the validity of an estate plan into question. When this occurs, certain parties can challenge the plan in probate court.

Although this process can be costly to the estate and strain familial relationships, it’s sometimes necessary to ensure that the law is followed and that the individual who created the estate plan wasn’t taken advantage of. This especially true when there are concerns about undue influence.

What is undue influence?

In short, undue influence occurs when an individual exerts control over a testator (i.e. the individual who creates an estate plan) in a way that benefits the person exerting that control. Signs of undue influence include:

  • Distribution of estate assets in a way that’s unexpected, such as when close family members are completely cut out of the inheritance scheme and someone who is more distant receives what seems to be more than their fair share.
  • The testator significantly relied upon the individual who is accused of exerting excessive control over them.
  • The testator’s medical condition left them susceptible to undue influence and control.
  • The estate’s asset distribution framework appears to mirror that which had been suggested by the individual accused of exerting control.

There may be other signs of undue influence. You just have to be diligent in analyzing the facts and how they may be indicative of your loved one’s manipulation.

Do you think your loved one was subjected to undue influence?

If so, then you should get to work gathering evidence and building a case that you can present in probate court. By doing so, you not only protect your interest in the estate, but you also shield your loved one’s legacy and their wishes. If you have questions about how to navigate one of these cases in probate court, then please continue to read through our blog and New York’s probate process.